Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Average -v- Extraordinary

When I'm asked what I'll miss most about moving on from Switzerland my first thoughts are that I'm going to miss the amazing scenery.  Every day as I drive to and from school I think what an absolutely gorgeous country this is.  Especially in the spring, when all the blossom is out, it's breathtaking at times.  More than once I've stopped the car just to get out and take a photo.  When I'm asked what I'm most looking forward to, however, my first thoughts are that I'm looking forward to being extraordinary.  One of the things that impressed me about my new school was being told "We take good teachers and make them even better."  I remember that at the start of this school year I wrote a post on Facebook and asked "Is it better to be in a beautiful country or to be in a great school?"  I had some interesting replies but I think what it came down to was that the way you feel about your job is huge.  If you are not happy with what you are doing for 8 hours a day, then you can't really enjoy living in a beautiful country anyway.  For me I knew I was not happy because compared to my performance at previous schools I felt I was doing a very mediocre job now.  Although if you asked any teacher at school they would say I was doing a great job, my feeling was that I could do so much more and it was killing my spirit to be average.  Definitely time to move on, I thought, and this time I was only prepared to move to a school that had an excellent reputation - not just as a very high tech school but one that had a vision for using technology to redefine education, one that was focused on 21st century skills, one that valued and supported its staff and whose core beliefs seemed to align with my own.  This week a friend sent me an article about core beliefs and over the past few days I've mulled over how these are important in making any place a wonderful place to work.  I've summarized some of the main points below where I feel they apply to schools:

Machine -v- Community:  average schools see themselves as businesses, as machines with teachers as the cogs.  These schools have rigid structures and rules.  Extraordinary schools value their teachers' hopes and dreams and inspire them to dedicate themselves to the success of the whole community.  Stepping outside the box is not only allowed, it's encouraged.

Control -v- Service:  average schools want teachers to do exactly what they are told - they see questioning  the status quo and individual initiative as insubordination. Extraordinary schools set a general direction but allow teams to make their own decisions and support them with the resources they need to get the job done.

Pain -v- Growth:  average schools see change as threatening, excellent schools value new ideas.

Automation -v- Empowerment:  average schools have a one-size-fits-all approach to technology, extraordinary schools see technology as a way to enhance creativity and help students and teachers to connect.

Community, service, growth, empowerment -  yes I'm looking forward to all these things.  I'm looking forward to being a better me!

Photo Credit:  New yarn-yum by F. Tronchin, 2005 AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, as usual you have inspired me. What you wrote as an average school is exactly what the rules are for my present school. There are times that I really think that my school which I used to really enjoy is slipping into the below average category.

    I am like you: I am taking pictures everywhere of Beijing and the unusual even though after eight years it has become the usual.

    I am excited about the future and what it holds, my ability to grow into a position I feel is made for me and to grow as a person. Yes, I am going to strive to be extraordinary though I worry about the stress that may put on me. I am my worst critic.